The Constitutional Court, the highest legal body in Turkey, ruled on Thursday 26 December that the government's blocking of the online Wikipedia encyclopedia constituted a “Violation of freedom of expression”, reported the Turkish media.
The majority of the Court concluded that the ban on Wikipedia access, which had been blocked since April 2017 due to two articles linking Ankara to extremist organizations, was illegal.
The Wikimedia foundation, which hosts the Wikipedia site, filed a complaint with the highest Turkish court of justice for infringement of freedom of expression, after a court of first instance rejected in May 2017 its request to end blocking.
The effective lifting of the block must now be examined by this same court, taking into account the decision of the Constitutional Court.
An “unacceptable” cut for the Council of Europe
Turkish authorities said the blockage would remain in effect as long as the two Wikipedia articles in question, which portray Turkey as “One of the actors who were at the origin of the civil war in Syria and [un Etat] who supports and arms terrorist organizations “, would not have been removed. Turkish authorities have repeatedly made use of the temporary blocking of websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, in recent years, usually following attacks.
In May 2019, Wikimedia announced that it had also filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against the ban on its online encyclopedia in Turkey. Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović judges in a note published on 25 November that such a cut is “Unacceptable” :
“This blocking fits into a wider context of illegitimate restrictions on the right to communicate on the Internet, and more generally as an illustration of the disproportionate approach currently prevailing in Turkey with regard to any content or information that Turkish authorities consider it offensive. “